Tuesday, January 29, 2013


So I've been sick for the last four days. It's been pretty awful. I had to miss my volleyball team's first tournament on Sunday because of it. Though, I am proud of them because they got second place in the whole tournament (I would like to think that if I was there, we'd have won first).
Being the productive me that I am, I have spent my time wisely by finishing watching season 4 of Doctor Who and moving on to Matt Smith as The Doctor in season 5. While I am extremely sad that David Tennant has gone, Matt Smith is pretty good. He has good hair, and I like his outfit, and he has extremely long fingers, so I think it'll all work out. Also, River Song appears a lot in these upcoming episodes and such, so that'll be fun. I finished reading Bitterblue yesterday, and had to stop myself from starting any other book because the sequel to one of my favorite books, Legend came out today and I got it on my nook and started to read it. It's called Prodigy, and so far, it's amazing!! I've also spent a lot of time on Pottermore trying to make the polyjuice potion so I can get into the slytherin common room. But, like Neville, I'm terrible at making potions, so it's basically a lost cause. I don't know what I'm going to do, because I just want to read the extra content on the world of Harry Potter from J.K. Rowling, but I can't proceed because I can't get into the common room.  To make it worse, the internet is EXTREMELY slow, so I have to choose wisely when I decide that I want to watch something on Netflix. Then it just buffers forever and then the pixels get all weird and it's extra annoying.
It's funny, the notion of becoming sick is far more attractive than actually becoming sick. On any normal school day, I would be happy to stay home and read and crochet and watch Doctor Who, but when you have a fever and your head is about to explode, it isn't as fun as you would like. I guess the grass is always greener on the other side. I think I'm done complaining now.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Book #3: The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks

I have to say, I enjoyed this book more than I really expected to. I first learned about The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks (by E. Lockhart) when John Green recommended it in his Nerdfighter book recommendations video a couple of months ago.
I can totally understand why John Green would recommend this book. Like Looking for Alaska, it takes place in a boarding school and involves a lot of pranks. Frankie is a high school sophomore who basically is tired of people not expecting anything from her. She goes off to boarding school in the fall and meets a guy who is part of an all-male secret organization at school that basically pulls pranks and throws parties. Frankie, as the year passes, infiltrates this group, called the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds and she starts to be the one who tells the group what pranks to pull and what to do, all without them knowing it. It's a very fun book, especially the pranking part because it was all clever and witty.
I've already posted about the thing that I found fascinating in the book: the panopticon, which is something I still can't really stop thinking about, because, you know, it's intriguing. There were other things that I enjoyed about the book too. I liked Frankie's logic and the way she thought things out so that people wouldn't catch on to the fact that she was in charge of the Loyal Order. I liked the setting of the book. Not only the whole boarding school element of it, but also the fact that there were catacombs and stuff, which was awesome.
My only real problem with the book was that it took forever for the interesting things to begin. I was about halfway through the book when Frankie started to take over the Loyal Order and tell them what to do. This, disappointingly, didn't leave as much time for pranking as I would have liked, and it all ended rather quickly. I just would have liked it to go on longer. It could have been more fun that way, and then the book could have ended at the end of the school year. I just think that the change in  relationships between the people in the Loyal Order and Frankie after they figure out that Frankie is the one telling them what to do could have been really interesting. Instead, it just didn't happen. Ah well, you can always hope for a sequel.
4 starts out of 5.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Panopticon

I'm currently reading The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart (unfortunately not the same as Gilderoy Lockhart), in which it often talks about the panopticon.
A panopticon is an institution (usually a prison), created by the English philosopher Jeremy Bentham during the late eighteenth century. It's a prison in which the guards can watch the criminals without the criminals knowing that they are being watched. Thus, the criminals are supposed to act better because they assume that they are always being watched. At this time, the panopticon was ideal because is required less guards because you don't have to watch all the time, but you know that the criminals are going to be on good behavior (as good as criminal behavior can get).
I think this is really fascinating. It plays tricks on the mind. I don't think I would be able to survive in any type of panopticon, because I would be paranoid all the time. But we also do live in a world where this kind of tactic-acting better because we think someone might be watching-is very prominent.
If you know your teacher might give you a pop-quiz on the reading, you read the assignment. She doesn't have to give you a quiz all the time, but this way, she can make sure you're reading. However, this would have worked better in a world without Sparknotes. I could make my bed in the morning because my dad may be looking in to see if I did so, and because I know that eventually my bed-making skills will be judged by a person who attended the Air Force Academy, I make my bed.
This is also interesting because it brings to life the idea that people act better when they're being watched. This is just plain fact. You're on better behavior when there's a guest in the house. You dress nicer for a job interview. It also goes back to the fact that people just care about what other people think about themselves.
I also just found out that the Allegheny County Jail (the jail in Pittsburgh) is a panopticon. It's one of only three or four in the U.S. That's awesome.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Book #2: Graceling

I just finished reading Graceling by Kristin Cashore a couple of minutes ago. This book is the first book in the Graceling series. I finished reading its companion book, Fire, a couple of days ago.
Graceling is set in a different part of this fantasy world than Fire. In this world, children who have two eyes of different colors are Graced with a particular ability, sort of like the X-Men. Some have the ability to predict the weather, swim really well, or even have the ability to cook amazingly good food. The main character in the book, Katsa, is Graced with the ability to kill people, which is a Grace that I wouldn't care for. However, it does set up conflict between the Grace and Katsa's unwillingness to be simply a killer.
This is what I really liked about this book. There's the theme of the power that one has and how it can control you. There was a character in this book, Leck, who was part of a subplot in Fire, who has the ability to basically say something and have the whole world believe it to be true. Even if Leck just created a rumor, it could travel all throughout the kingdom, and everyone would believe it. I don't really know what good you could really do with some amazing power or ability like that. What makes it worse is that Leck is the king of Monsea, and uses his Grace to make everybody think that he's this kind and gentle person when really, he's not. To have that kind of influence over everybody....is just a scary thought. He could rule the world with just the words that come out of his mouth. An ability like that could take over you. My favorite line in the book is when Katsa and Po (another main character in the book) are talking and Po says, "It's hard to tell where he ended and his Grace began"(468).
But honestly, what would you do if you could do something like that? It's very complicated. What would you do if you could kill someone with great ease? Would you do it? It's a very conflicting matter between the gifts you have and your own personality and desires. I guess things like that, even though they're not realistic in our world have to be thought about.
Anyway, I did enjoy this book a lot. There were some sections when Katsa and Po were traveling that were a bit slow. The writing itself was excellent, because you could just feel the emotion in every word. The dialogue also was realistic, along with the character's train of thought. But really, the best part about the book was its main theme. 4.5 stars.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Block Schedule

Tomorrow is the highly anticipated unveiling of the new school schedule for next year. From what I've heard from basically all of the teachers and the students (who's parents were informed of the new schedule last week), we have a block schedule. This is a kind of schedule where you have, for example, four 75 minute class periods a day that meet every other day.
Here's the thing. I had a block schedule last year, and it was AWFUL. Like, absolutely terrible, and I'm about to tell you why.
First of all, students in my class couldn't pay attention for half an hour if they wanted to. So people didn't have the attention span for it.
Secondly, and this is totally true, I feel like some of the teachers I had last year thought that since we have a block schedule and so much time, we didn't have to use all of that to learn. So, literally, we would get twenty minute lectures about things that were totally unrelated to the class.  We'd also get like, thirty minutes to do about ten Spanish questions, so I would finish it in five minutes and read for the rest of the half-hour. It was a waste of my time.
Thirdly, (and here's the thing that bothered me a LOT) say you do a section a day in math with a normal schedule that meets every day. Last year,  we would spend a 75 minute class period on one section every other day, which means we only got through half of the book. I think we actually did four chapters in math last year. WE SPENT THREE WEEKS ON THE QUADRATIC FORMULA!!! It's honestly not that hard, you just plug the numbers in. And we learned that in SEVENTH grade!!! Don't insult our intelligence.
Fourthly, the thing that I like about the schedule we have now, is that, even though it's impossible to follow, there's a lot of variety, and I think that the class lengths are just right, even for the boring classes.
But here's the other side of the argument:
You could do a lot of labs and stuff in science.
There's this one class called Urban Research and Design and they have to do a bunch of really long projects, so it would help them out.
Longer periods mean you can get more stuff done.
You can go on more field trips (the only "field trips" I went on last year was going outside to the river for gym. That's it)
There's probably a lot more, but I can't think of any right now.

So last year, my experience with block scheduling was really bad. I ended up getting so hungry in Spanish, that I brought a nature valley bar to class and ate it while the teacher wasn't looking. Also, you just get bored, and class seems like it'll go on forever.
This is also what they do in college, but I don't think I would mind it as much there as I would here. And who knows, maybe it'll be magical and I'll fall in love with it. You never know.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Very Rich King

There was once a very rich king living in a very rich kingdom. The king wasn't a particularly good king. He was often too concerned with the collection of objects that he would never use. There were rooms in his castle dedicated to the collection rare instruments, such as the calliope, it's whistles burnished so much, that no one would want to touch an instrument so shiny and beautiful. 
The king commissioned many people to make or find him things that were beautiful. When he first sat on his throne as a young man, he hired an antiquarian to search and collect books that were so rare and old, that their pages would crumple as soon as he laid his hand on them. His lapidary would cut him the most precious gems to place on his crown. He hired a klezmer to play him what he thought to be the most mellifluous music in the land, and his singers, with their elocution, sang him his favorite songs. His dexterous artists painted his portraits, making him look like his skin was smoother than the water on a still lake. 
The king's trope in his life, searching and craving for material beauty, drove him insane. He did not care of for the people in his kingdom. Even though sickness was rampant though out his kingdom, his people suffering from ocular trauma, he did not care. Crime became common. People would get into fights to defend themselves, breaking their mandible, their teeth, or even their neck. Even though the years in the past had been a particularly fecund time, there was famine throughout the kingdom. Vorteces of air came through the kingdom and ruined the crops. There were riots and protests throughout the land, as people cried out for change and a newer, better king. His impetuous nature, his lack of interest in ruling, did not put him in a better light. He became jaded with ruling, bored of his life that he had once thought highly of. He started to take walks in his gardens, planting brambles and even building himself a grotto so that he could go somewhere away from his life. 
And so, as time went on, as people became more restless, a plan emerged to usurp the king's throne. 
One day, a young, handsome man entered the court of the king. He claimed to have the ability of fixing all of the king's problems. The king spent hours talking to this young man about all of his problems. The young man listened and became the king's closest confidant. Until, one day, the young man approached him, armed with weapons. He rousted him out of his throne, and when the king asked what he was doing, he replied, "I am here to kill you. Get up so that I can execute you the way the people want me to." 
The king called out for help, but none came. He slowly approached the young man, quailing in his sight. "You charlatan," he spit into the man's face, "you fraud."
"Yes," the man replied, "but this is what the people want, you dead, and a more sagacious, sagacious man on the throne, who has a more holistic approach to ruling the kingdom than you do." With that, the young man took his sword and brought it down on the king's head. The king let out a yawp, then was silent evermore. 

You might think this story is weird, because it is, but I'll tell you why. I have a vocab test tomorrow and I have to use all the words in a story, so this is what I do to prepare for that. The words are totally random and don't really have any relation to one another, so this is what I came up with. There are 25 vocab words, and I used all of them. You might want to see if you can find all of them. It'll probably be obvious because they're words that I don't use often. 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Florian is flowering!!!

You get two posts today! And guess what? Florian is flowering!!! OMG!!! It's flower is actually really really cute. Here's a picture:
I really like the fact that he's purple and I like the gold stuff in the middle, along with the little white flower coming out of the purple thing. I do wonder if the purple thing will expand and make a flower, but I don't know. I will keep you updated. I'm also curious to see what color Montague will be, because I've seen pictures online of ones that are red.
Since air plants flower only once in their life cycle, I guess this is a little bittersweet for me. Florian won't die....I think. I think after this, he reproduces and I can just have more Florians! Except, of course, I'll name them different things. Maybe I'll name them Obediah and Orville or maybe Melvin. We'll get there when we get there though.


Since I just made a post a couple days ago about how much I like to doodle and how doodling makes you remember things more, I thought I'd show you one of my doodles. I did this during AP European History yesterday. I normally don't doodle in AP Euro because I'm writing and taking notes the whole time, but we read an article about "A Frenchman Dreams of Russia," and how rich French people are going to Russia because taxes are lower in Russia. We talked about Europe's workdays and stuff like that, so I doodled, and here's what I came up with. Since I'm transferring from mathematical doodles, which I still do, but not as much of lately, this is the first major thing that I've drawn. I hope that there will be more of these in the future!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


There is a belief, that teenagers don't get enough sleep. And I must say that that is TOTALLY TRUE. Now I don't know all the reasons that cause a person to go to sleep at one in the morning. I would think that a lot of the time is spent wasting time, but then again, I have friends who do a ridiculous amount of stuff after school and when they get home, they have to do their homework.  I really don't know. I just know that I when I ask why people are really really tired, they say "I was up until two in the morning." And then I think, doing what?
I was extremely tired this morning because yesterday I had volleyball practice that went until 9:30pm. I then had to come home and take a shower, so I got to bed at around 10:30, so I only got eight hours of sleep. When I told this to my friends who asked my why I looked tired, they looked at me like I was crazy. I suppose that I was crazy to them. They then proceeded to say that they were lucky if they got to bed at 10:30 on a normal night, which personally, I think is crazy.
Now this is also coming from a person who isn't finely tuned toward the normal functions of a teenage person. I don't have a facebook or a twitter or an instagram or that thing where you put pictures of artsy stuff that's like an instagram but isn't. So I don't know what motivates people to do something at two in the morning that will make them want to climb back in bed and drink lots and lots of caffeine when they wake up in the morning. I don't think it's worth it, because in my mind, sleep=success.
Isn't that true? Don't people tell you to sleep like crazy before the SATs and before finals? And what happens if you stay up until two in the morning studying for those tests? You do really badly.
This is actually another pet peeve of mine. If you are studying something at three in the morning, you're not going to do well the next day, so why would you do it? If you don't know what the Gunpowder Plot was at three in the morning, you're not going to know it six hours later when it's on the test.
I was thinking about this today because when I walked into school, everybody looked like they were a zombie. Next year, it's going to be really bad because it's junior year of high school, the year where you have to take all the AP classes you can take and get straight A's because if you don't, you're not going to get into the college of your choice. At least, that's what everyone says about it. So junior year is really hard. I just don't know what I will do when I'm required to stay up past 10:30. Maybe I'll look like a zombie too.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


When I was in sixth grade, my art teacher told me that the people who doodle during class actually retain much more information than the people who get bored and daydream. So I took this piece of information and put it to good use, and I've perfected some doodles that I learned over the years. 
It started out by watching ViHart on YouTube. She works at KhanAcademy and makes videos about mathy stuff. Recently, I learned a lot about the Fibonacci sequence in nature from her videos. She also creates videos about doodling in math class. She shows some awesome doodles that she does and tells you how to do them. They look pretty awesome. 
Over the break, my parents gave me a book that taught me how to draw really cute doodles. So I've been practicing in my math class. When Mr. Hallas, my teacher, was talking about e and compounding interest, I doodled until he was done talking. He then told us to work on our homework, and was going around the classroom when he saw my doodles. He looked at them and said he was impressed. I told him that people who doodle retain more information, and he nodded. He then said that he loved people who doodle. 
That was the first time I had heard that from anybody (excluding my art teacher, of corse). 
So I was curious. I went on the internet and looked up some articles about doodling, and it turns out that my art teacher was right. Apparently, when the mind gets bored, it actually creates a bunch of stuff to think about. Like, for example; I hope it'll snow today, then we could have a snow day tomorrow, and then I could just sleep in, and then I could knit and crochet-but what should I knit and crochet? You can pretty much go anywhere with that. So daydreaming will actually require a bunch of brain power and energy. However, if you doodle, you are still using your brain and keeping it awake, but not using it so much that you go off and daydream. Since you're not using all that energy you could be using, then you retain the information that was given to you during that boring meeting or class. 
I'm not kidding. I read this stuff on TIME and The Guardian. So next time you're in a boring class-just doodle! You'll remember a lot more than if you start thinking about that snow day that we need to have. I was just glad that a teacher knows that and doesn't mind.  

Monday, January 7, 2013

Book #1: Fire

As I wrote in an earlier post about my New Year's Resolutions, I have decided that I will read thirty books this year.
The first book of the year, which I finished on Saturday, was Fire by Kristen Cashore. This book was recommended to me by a relative of mine, Morgan, and I must say, I really enjoyed it. It is commonly written on websites and such that it is the second book in the Graceling series by Cashore, but really, it's a companion novel to the first book, Graceling. It's a prequel, really, because there are some characters (mainly Leck) that are in Graceling, which I am reading right now.
Fire is about a girl named Fire who is a monster. However, in this world, monsters are beautiful creatures, though deadly. Fire has telepathic powers, though they are sometimes limited if the person she's trying to talk to has had training to keep monsters out of their minds. She's one of the last human monsters in the Dells, the daughter of a terrible monster named Cansrel, who was the advisor to King Nax. Cansrel was a very unforgiving person and would use his ability of telepathy to influence people to do things that he wanted them to do. He thus had a pretty bad reputation and Fire has to live under the shadow of his reputation, even though he died when she was little. She had lived in the woods with her friend Archer and his father, Brocker for her life, but she came out of "hiding" to help the king, King Nash, to find out secrets from spies from other kingdoms that he captured. While the kingdom is on the brink of war, there is also another problem going on-these mysterious murders that are caused by a man with a white arrow, who's mind is controlled by another person, so Fire also has to find out who that is as well.
Overall, I thought this book was very good. The writing was excellent, the characters all had a purpose, and the pacing was good as well. I also really liked the fact that the prologue tied in really well to the whole story. You don't really know the purpose of the prologue until you get to the end, and I love it when authors do that. I liked all the characters except Archer because even though he's Fire's best friend, he sure doesn't act like it, and he doesn't know how to control himself, and that aggravated me. I must say again that I really really liked the writing. It was written more elegantly than, say, a realistic fiction book about high school. It was written like how I imagine people in a kingdom would speak.
I also really liked the themes in the book-trying to judge people based on their personality, having lots and lots of power and all that you can do with that power, but knowing how to exercise it. That's actually a theme that I really like in general, because I think it's so important. Just because we have power doesn't mean we have to use it, and we also have to decide what exactly to use it for.
Fire was an easy read, and I would probably recommend it for ages 14+. Four and a half stars out of five. I've decided to give five stars out of five sparingly-they have to be really really special to get five stars.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

12 Fictional Characters I Want to Meet

Since I like fiction, whether it's in a book or in a movie or in a TV show, I thought that I would make a list of people I think it would be interesting to meet (in no particular order)

  1. Gandalf- no explanation necessary. He's awesome. He could probably teach me about the whole coming-back-to-life-after-dying thing, though I don't think Gandalf the White is as cool as Gandalf the Grey. Gandalf the Grey is so much more flamboyant and fun while as Gandalf the White basically has one purpose in his life, and focuses pretty much all of his attention on that. 
  2.  Luna Lovegood(and all the other wizards in the world! Except Voldemort...) because she's so absentminded, but totally cool at the same time. I especially like her insistence in the existence of so many weird creatures. I do wish that in the books, she would have gotten together with Neville. It would have been such a cute pair. They did so in the movies, but J.K. Rowling says that there is nothing between Neville and Luna in the books. 
  3. DEATH -now don't think that I'm a morbid person. This is an actual character in an actual series, the Discworld books. In that series, DEATH is awesome and funny, and totally clueless. He's a bit sarcastic as well, and I love the fact that in the book Mort, he wanted to take a holiday, so he got someone else to take his place until he got back. Death on holiday... it would be interesting to see him trying to suntan on the beach...
  4.  Peeta -yes, I am team Peeta. There's no denying it.
  5. Wolverine -specifically the Wolverine in the X-men movies. He's better looking in those anyway. I don't particularly like his outfit in the comics. Blue and Yellow don't look good on him. Also, in the movies, he's has so much more depth than in the comics. And Hugh Jackman...come on now...
  6. Sherlock and Watson from Sherlock. If I died an unfortunate death, I'd want them to solve my murder. Sherlock would think that it was a murder so easy to solve, he wouldn't leave his house for it. Then, Watson would stream the crime scene from his computer to Sherlock's using videochat. Then, Sherlock would decide there was something more to the murder and decide he wanted to solve it. However, I don't particularly want to wait until after my death to meet the two, so maybe it'll work out if I was hired by the police department. Or maybe, I end up renting a room in the same apartment building as the two of them. Though, the gunshots and the thought that there might be a dead person's head in their fridge might be a little too much to handle.
  7. Elrond-he has an awesome forehead and is amazing
  8. The Doctor -specifically the tenth doctor from Doctor Who. As I have written about before, I think I would make a particularly good companion for The Doctor. Maybe he would lend me his sonic screwdriver sometime and I could open a door with it. 
  9. Shawn and Gus (from Psych) -don't be an incorrigible Eskimo pie with a caramel ribbon. You know you want to meet them too. 
  10. Bernie from I am the Messenger-because he's an adorable old man who loves when people come to his virtually abandoned theater.
  11. Mike and Sully from Monster's Inc. I would especially enjoy having Mike come out of my closet and entertain me during the night. Speaking of Monster's Inc., I CANNOT wait for Monster's University to come out this summer. 
  12. All the characters from Downton Abbey, especially the Dowager Countess and Matthew Crawley, though he dies in season 3. My other favorite character, Sybil, dies as well in season 3, which is sad. However, since I like pretty much all of the characters except Mrs. Crawley (because she's annoying, especially in season 2 when she tried to take charge of the hospital), I'm sure I'll find another favorite character to obsess about. A conversation with the Dowager Countess would be so interesting, especially because she's so sarcastic. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

I Like Beginnings

Happy New Years everyone! 
I like beginnings. There's a freshness to them. Also, they are the furthest point away from the end, and I like that, because I'm not a big fan of ends. The most positive thing about an end is that there is a beginning that will shortly arrive. Beginnings also mean second chances, the ability to try new things, and the list goes on and on. 
This year seems like a fun year. In two months, I will legally be allowed to operate a two-ton metal box commonly known as a car. That might be a positive for me, but I don't know if it will be a positive point in the lives of those that will sit in the passenger seat of my vehicle. Our family is going on a cruise in the Bahamas in June. This trip will consist of 25 SCUBA dives, including one night dive and at least one shark dive. That promises to be fun. Psych will start to air in February, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug will come out, as well as Catching Fire and Ender's Game. There will be a bunch of traveling in the Spring for my volleyball tournaments. There will even be a three day tourney in Indianapolis. 
There are also a bunch of things that I want to do myself. I decided that I'm going to dress up for the Renaissance Festival, so I have to get my costume ready. I've got a shirt right now, and that's it. Though my dad says if I go as a beggar, I can just get a brown sack and bunch holes through it. That idea didn't seem too appealing to me. I'm not going to go as a member of royalty or anything, but I have to crochet myself a shawl-like thing 'cause a lot of people that I saw this past year had them. I also would like to get a 5 on the AP European History exam. There's going to be a lot of studying that I'll have to do, but I'm willing to do it-and  plus, I really want that 5. 
So here I come to my New Year's resolutions. I feel like some of them might be a little odd, but if I make them public, I have to do them, or else feel shame, so it's a good thing. 
1. I would like to be able to do the splits 
2. Read more than 30 books
3. Make at least 20 blog posts a month 

I'll probably end up thinking of some more, but these are the three that I have for now. Hopefully, I'll be able to make them all.